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Monday, September 22, 2008

Islamists Doesn’t Advocate Totalitarianisme: A Respond to Mustafa Akyol

Another attempt to discredit Islamists by Liberalists. A sad pathetic attempt, if u ask me.

I read his article published by Malaysiakini, and I felt I have to respond to it. My only reason for doing this is one: to correct Mutafa Akyol (MA)’s understanding of Islam.

He started out by condemning Dr Yusuf Qardhawi’s statement. Dr Yusuf is said to have said that : “victory is only possible by returning to Islam”. MA claims that is a form of “rhetoric”. The statement is made with reference to the debacle in Palestine.

Knowing that MA is a Turk, I dare say that he has never heard Dr Yusuf’s speech in Arabic, the original language. If MA did understand Arabic, he would know that Dr Yusuf’s statement is a form of “Al Am Wa Yuqsda Biha Al Khas”. To explain it simply, it is a general statement, with reference to a specific meaning.

It’s akin to the common practice in English when we use the word “every”. For instance, the term “everyone” can refer to “every people” or it can refer to a “specific group of people” When we say “everyone is not listening to me”, we could be referring to “everyone that is knows me and is in contact with me”. We surely do not mean “everyone in the world”. The same can be applied here.

Dr Yusuf was actually referring to the fact that the Arab world is DIVIDED along nationalist lines. By returning to Islam, the entire Middle East will be united under one banner, that is Islam. The only hope for a united Middle East against Israel is Islam. Without Islam, there is no way the Muslims in the Middle East will be united.

As long as Muslims are divided along nationalistic identity, Israel will thrive and survive. The real rhetoric is the call to unite “all Arab nations” while maintaining their Nationalist identity. Please remember that the nationalists identities being believed by Muslims in the Middle East is a product of Western Colonial powers and not Islam.

So it is no rhetoric but a statement of truth. The Middle East divided along Nationalistic line is a guarantee for Israeli continued survival. To break those lines is only possible with Islam because Islam is the only common denominator.

On record, it’s only the Islamists that has been to record any kind of “defeat” upon the Israelis. The “Intifada” which led to the creation of the Palestinian state was a product of Islamic activism. The Hizbullah twice defeated the Israelis and managed to drive Israel out of Lebanon. The Hizbullah is NOT secular and they claim to fight on the basis of Islam.

Islamists and Traditionalists

Mustafa then tried to distinguish between “Islamists” and “Traditionalists”. In essence, what he is trying to do is to divide Muslims into two groups: A group that is religious but cares nothing about wordly affairs (named traditionalists by him) and another group that is religious but proactively participates in the political and economic system of the current world(named as Islamists by MA).

MA then suddenly jumped to the conclusion that Islamists will result in “religious totalitarianisme”. Why? Because Islamists wants to bring Islam into the real world. He seems to prefer the “traditionalists” Muslims because they seem to limit Islam to matters of the “Hereafter” and bothers not about the going on’s of the world.

MA also sees this as a move towards being “less godly” as he explains:

British historian Karen Armstrong, one of the world’s most prominent writers on religion, grasps this problem clearly in her book, “A History of God.” “The political activism which characterizes modern fundamentalism,” she notes, “is in retreat from God.”

I don’t know whether to cry or to laugh at this statement. This is because all of this commentators, whether Karen Armstrong, MA or even Smith looks at Islam from a narrow and cramped perspective. They think that in order for someone to be “godly” one must be mentioning “God” all the time.

This is all a cheap and pathetic effort by MA to paint Islamists as being apart from Islam and God. It’s just pathetic and in the end exposes his own ignorance of Islam, the Quran and the Sunnah.

Never mind the fact that Islam teaches us the concept of “Al Ijtihad” (interpretation of Quran and Sunnah) and also the fact that in matters related to politics and economy, the text from the Quran and Sunnah are general and broad.

Clearly, MA has fallen prey to Karen and Smith’s lack of understanding of Islamic jurisprudence which lead them to conclude that Islamic political activism is becoming less and less godly.

What has happened is that in matters related to polity, the Quran and As Sunnah has left a very large room for interpretation (ijtihad) and what Islamists are doing is to provide the best interpretation to fit the current reality of the modern world but at the same time not sacrifice the teachings of Islam.

Are Islamists Advocating Totalitarianisme

As usual with liberalists like Mustafa Ayoi (MA), they are rich with generalize statement like the above but always found wanting when it comes to evidence.

Allow me to quote Noah Felding’s article entitled “Why Shariah”, recently published in the New York Times:

For many Muslims today, living in corrupt autocracies, the call for Shariah is not a call for sexism, obscurantism or savage punishment but for an Islamic version of what the West considers its most prized principle of political justice: the rule of law.”

It’s really funny when a Jew like Noah Felding openly defends Islam against slanderous attacks porputrated by a someone who claims to be a Muslim like Mustafa Akyol.

To sum it up, I let Noah Feldman, in the same article, will provide the best contradiction to Mustafa Akyol:

" Still, with all its risks and dangers, the Islamists’ aspiration to renew old ideas of the rule of law while coming to terms with contemporary circumstances is bold and noble — and may represent a path to just and legitimate government in much of the Muslim world."

Tulang Besi

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  1. i dun read mkini except for news these days.
    commentaries/letters/vox populi/columns, i can pretty guess the content on both sides of the need to refute anymore...
    article on islam...this point of view...

  2. I find the article by Mustafa Akyol not only very persuasive but also very convincing and honest. It deals with a complex topic and he has covered the topic well without the emotional baggage.

  3. I too haven read the Mustafo article. You wrote: "The Middle East divided along Nationalistic line is a guarantee for Israeli continued survival. To break those lines is only possible with Islam because Islam is the only common denominator."

    Are you suggesting that it is wrong to guarantee the survival of one nation among other nations? Do we need to be historians of the Middle East or Islamic theology to know that all nations deserve to thrive and live amongs each other, including Israel and Palestine?

  4. Dear Tulang Besi,

    Re: “Returning to Islam”

    Dr Yusuf is said to have said that: “victory is only possible by returning to Islam”. I cannot disagree more vehemently.

    This is because, the real challenge in the world today is how to bring peace to the Islamic world; or put another way, how to stop terror, violence and unimaginable destruction in Islamic countries? How can this happen in places where people are supposed to profess a perfect religion of peace. It is difficult for non-Muslims to make the connection between peace, perfection and Islam in this contemporary world, let alone history.

    What has gone wrong? Of course some of the blame can be placed on the Zionist conspiracies and US Imperialism, but surely Muslims and Islam itself must bear some share of the blame. But Muslims cannot confront this because they cannot accept the least bit of criticism of Islam. If you say that violence is part of Islam, Muslims will protest that it is not and that it is a perfect religion of peace and to prove it: they will chop you up!

    So give peace a chance in the Islamic world and if that works, the violence level in the world will be reduced by 90%.


  5. Dear Tulang Besi,

    We need to remind Muslim writers, even some scholars, to go back to the truly great Muslim Scholars.

    Al Ghazali for one, his period too was a tumulteous period.

    We need to scoure the traditions, the Sunnah especially, rather than the hadith per se.

    We need to read and discern from the great Kitabs about the Prophetic Period ie. the 'amal ahl madinah.

    I believe they form the benchmark and model; many human situations that they faced are still applicable and relevant today. ie. the substantive and not so much the form.

    Modernist like Rashid Rida Abduh, Afghani, al Banna, Syed Qutb, and perhaps , I would put Qardawi to be neo-modernist.

    Even, Ibn Taymiyyah though notable, cannot be levelled the same as al Ghazali. It is only because many modern Ustadz and the likes of Abdul Wahab that put Ibn Taymiyyah inthe high pedestal where he should not be.

    Let's put everybody in the proper places.

  6. Dear Al Madinists,

    Re: "Go back to the truly great Muslim Scholars"

    No need for all that, brav, just stop Muslims from killing Muslims. That is all. If that means becoming Christians - and so learning to love your neighbour as yourself and lovin your enemy as Jesus taught - so be it!

    But just stop Muslims from killing Muslims please.


  7. Dear Justice,

    I disagree because it is not persuasive at all. It's deceiving and it is inaccurate.

    It explains how I can write a rebutal in less than an hour.

  8. Of course you can write a rebuttal in less than no time- because you want to believe what you want to believe.
    Others may also want to do the same. The emotional baggage is heavy indeed.

  9. Dear Justice,

    People get really emotional when other people lie about their religion.

    The Mustafa Akyol article is a prime example.

  10. Lets Abolish ISA = IKUT SUKA AKU!!!

    Lets see the news...

    A Step To Abolish ISA By 18 people

  11. To Justice and Tulang Besi,

    You both have two different views of the article. The writer Mustafa himself may also disagree with either of you. Isn't this a good thing? To be able to share your differing views without getting emotional?

    I think being emotional for God is good but this emotion, if genuine, is usually one of love, joy and awe.

    If a so-called religious emotion or passion is motivated to kill another person for the person's beliefs or insults, then we are no better than people without God. I am referring to all religious fanatics, especially those who bomb
    innocent civilians.

  12. Hi Tulang Besi, Justice & all,
    After reading your article and comments by others, I feel obliged to share my views.

    I live in the Middle East, travel around quite a bit and mixed freely with Arabs of different background, culture, traditions, faith and nationalities, both males and females.

    I am rather fascinated by your strong views or conviction in believing that Islam 'can break those lines as Islam is the only common denominator'

    I am fascinated because that view is perceived by a lot of other Muslims as well, especially those who are not from the so called Arab world. People from countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Pakistan or even Muslim Europeans have this concept that because majority of the Arabs are Muslims, therefore the religion, Islam, can be a strong unifying factor. How wrong these people are!

    This is one interesting case study where perception is far removed from the reality. And allow me to explain why.

    I think we all know and are fully aware that Arabs came from different clans or groups altogether. And they have not been friendly parties with one another. History has told us that there have been many conflicts and misunderstanding among the many different groups, for economic or political reasons.

    The historical roots and conflicts have never been weakened all these times despite them sharing the same religion, Islam. In fact, to the contrary, it got worse over the years and more differences came to prominence.

    Most people tend to forget that long names such as al-.... (like a surname) at the back of some of the Arabs are very meaningful to that particular clan or group. Not everybody has this al-... at the back of their names which means they are of lesser importance in terms of economic background or social status.

    So in the Arab world, there are hundreds of al-... surname that sprung over the last several hundred years. The popular ones being the al-Saud, al-Maktoum and al-Khalifa, to name just a few. Those surnames belong to the Saudi ruling family, Dubai and Bahrain rulers respectively.

    Each surname is quite unique and has its roots and history which can be traced over several hundred years. The surname is very significant which means that you belong to this clan or group and not the other, where certain traditions, culture and practices have to be followed and uphold.

    Marriage, for instance, is one of those traditions which is still held strongly by family members and has a set of prominent practices among the Arab clans and families. Marriage acts as a means of barrier or protection of not allowing others to join your clan.

    While marriage within a clan is encouraged, more often arranged by family members, marriage outside the clan is strongly prohibited. The practice, marriage outside the clan is look down, discouraged, and requires agreement from the family's Majlis (or council) permission of which is nearly impossible. More so if you are a woman who wish to marry outside your clan! A definite NO.

    Have you met any Malaysian male Muslim married to a Saudi woman or a Qatari lady, for instance? It just doesnt happen and not without a valid reason. Their family council will strongly opposed your proposal.

    Although countries in North Africa have become more relax over the years, this strong group behaviour when it comes to culture and traditions are found to be very strong in the Arabian peninsula.

    Their practice have been made more complex over the years with the advent of different sect in Islam where the basic belief has been broken into different 'mazhab', the main ones are the four, as we all know, but within which there are also other sub groups. So a Bahraini sunni lady wanting to marry an Iranian shiite is a definite taboo!

    And of course in the last many decades now, you have the national boundaries to contain with. So the Arabs have been divided further in territorial areas which some refer to province, disrict or emirate.

    Although as a whole they are referred to as the name after the nation they live in, such as Saudis, Qataris or Emiratis, they are still confined to the groups or clans of the past. Within each nation, their culture, traditions and practices have been turned into State's rules and regulations.

    For instance, if an Arab lady from a particular country somehow managed to convince his family council to eventually allow her to marry another Arab from another country, then the state administrators or official will block her wishes and will not allow her to proceed. This is simply a case of old culture or tradition that have been transformed into state laws and stringently regulated.

    So marriage between a Saudi woman and a Qatari man or an Emirati woman and a Saudi man, or vice versa, simply will not happen! So how and from where do you draw unity from?

    Not only marriage outside the clan is not allowed, marriage between religious sect is strongly prohibited, and marriage between different Arab nationalities are very far in between even though they all profess the same religion, Islam! Isnt that not complicated enough for the issue of unity?

    The state also do not give citizenships to the wife or husband who is from another country, and neither will the state give citizenship to their children.

    Not having the citizenship means the state do not have to provide any form of support normally enjoyed by its citizen such as housing, utility bills, children education, health services and more importantly government jobs.

    I think readers can easily understand what I am driving at. It is pretty obvious that their culture and traditions have definitely over-riden their faith or Islamic religion. And here we are, Malaysians, whom they see as converts anyway, trying to tell them, hey Arab guys, we must unite in the name of Islam. Clearly, or to put it simply, I dont think they comprehend what we are talking about.

    Their culture and traditions, which they hold very dearly, have somehow segregated them, thus they remain disunited. What reason do we have to convince them that they should abandon their culture and traditions? So that other Muslim man can marry their daughters or their sisters?

    I think I shall leave it with you, my fellow readers, to further draw your own conclusion on Arab unity. I am just putting my first hand knowledge and real life experience in perspective. The fact is, the Arabs got to know about Islam earlier than anybody else!


    And there is

  13. boy from dungun,

    I respect your view and as you'd like to conclude it but dare not - you think the Arabs are impossible to be united under Islam, because of the segregation they have, among other factors. But one of the reasons Islam was sent down to humanity is to eradicate these practices, although how impossible it may look to some, the objective is clear and therefore the statement that Islam CAN unite the Arabs, provided that they hold truthfully to the teachings of Islam, stands corrected.

  14. Like the many of your postings i am left with a deep sense of discomfort at your "arm chair admiral" ramblings. You have a thin and watery view of the world and its people boiling with hatred for Jews and the evil west.
    Your stupid and sadly uneducated writings not only lack fibre but also propagate further misunderstanding about your own religion and that of others.
    I suggest you pack your bags and head out into the world for at least 3 years.....go visit the west and the east and when you get back maybe then you will have something with a modicum of intellectual integrity to base your opinions on.

    Well written Dungun boy

  15. For an article with little fact or empirical observations to substantiate his claim, how can this article be anything more than just Akyol's emotional ramblings?

    Freedom House lists China as one of the worst authoritarian states with a score of 6.5 together with Belarus, Chad,Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Laos, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Zimbabwe ( it would be hazardous to claim that just one cultural or religious heritage has a monopoly on dictatorships and repression

    And if you protest that many Muslim countries are the worst offenders then which of them are ruled by Islamists? I would assume that most of us are agreed that Islamists and Islamism is a politically-biased term to paint disparate groups so I would urge caution here. In these same countries, Islamic political groups suffer the worst repression imaginable.


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